tv [untitled] CSPAN June 10, 2009 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT
mr. reid: mr.r. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i was outside to meet some students from reno and las vegas and there is a lot of
stuff blowing around and i got it this my eyes. i wanted to say to this personally but i will take the opportunity to say this now: the presentation you made on the senate floor today regarding health care was stupendous, terribly impressive. i'm going to take much of what the presiding officer said today and use it and information that i give to the people of the state of nevada and the presentation i make on the floor. it was very, very good. mr. president, as a health debate has heated up this week, republicans have once again rolled out one of their standard, stale talking points. they question the efficiency of our government. when all else fails they berate government. if republicans want to have an honest debate about how government operates i think one of the first things i would suggest is they should start
looking in the mirror at themselves. today, republicans are wasting more taxpayer time and more taxpayer dollars for no good reason. the tobacco bill on the floor right now is both responsible and overdue. after making us wait out all the 30 hours of procedural time before moving to the bill, now, mr. president, the 30 hours isn't all of it, to get do that point you have to file cloture which takes two days and then 30 hours. total waste of time. republicans are now making us wait another 30 hours before we can vote on this bill. 30 hours just to move to it, 30 hours once we're on it. let me reiterate how important the bill that we're wasting time on in the doing is to the american people: every day 3,500 americans try a cigarette for the first time. the vast, vast majority of that
3,500 are children. nationwide, 3.5 million high schoolers smoke, 3.35 million boys and girls in high school smoke, more kids than participate in athletics in our schools, are smoking. tobacco companies make money hand over fist by marketing and selling their poisonous products to our kids. the bill that's before the senate makes smart steps to keep our children and families healthier and keep tobacco companies honest. it will make it harder for the companies to sell tobacco which children and help those who smoke overcome their addiction and make tobacco products less toxic for those who cannot or do not want to stop. we tried in good faith since last week to reach an agreement with republicans on amendments to this bill. our floor staff has given the reblican floor staff a finite list of both democrat and republican amendments to vote on as we consider this bill.
the bill, with rare exception, the amendments remain germane. if they were not german they were arguably germane. but, no, no, no, no. three amendments from hagan, one each if coburn, enzi, bunning and lieberman. unfortunately, despite repeated efforts to move forward our republican colleagues have said, "no," every time. republicans also are slowing down our government in another way. in the few short months since president obama took office, republicans have held up many of his nominees for crucial positions. there are 25 being held up right now as we speak. let me give a you few of them we had to have cloture votes on this year. the secretary of labor, the deputy attorney general, the number two person for our massive justice department, the deputy secretary of the department of interior. that's like the chief of staff for the department of
interior -- held up. two members of the council of economic advisors, an incredibly, america's ambassador to iraq they held up, chris hill, for a long time. every time i spoke to secretary gates he wanted to know where his ambassador was. somebody to run this country. at least the american interests of that country. today, they're holding up 25 or more qualified and noncontroversial nominees including rand beers nominated to be undersecretary of the department of homeland security. very important position. was sunstein, nominated to head the office of management and budget regulatory affairs division. mr. president, you could go to any law school in america today and name the top ten academics
in law schools and was sunstein would be one of the ten on everyone's list but he's not good enough for the republicans to allow us to get him cleared. hilary comptons, nominated to be solicitor of the department of interior, the lawyer for the department of interior, and they have 70,000 employees. secretary salazar thinks it is a good idea he have a lawyer. they are not going to allow that. william sessions, nominated to be chair of the united states sentencing commission. listen to this one, mr. president: we have been toll the reason he is not going to get approved is because he is from vermont and senator leahy is chairman of the judiciary committee. they want to embarrass our friend, the chairman of that committee, pat leahy. harold hongju koh, state department legal advisor, like the interior department, the
state department, secretary clinton wants a lawyer there. a lawyer with the huge most important office -- no. robert groves nominated to be the director of the corner cens. and there are 20 others. just republicans recklessly refuse to confirm our new ambassador to iraq, listen to what they're doing now: they're holding up lieutenant general stanley mcchrystal, imminently qualified soldier who president obama and secretary gates chose to be our new commander in afghanistan. i met him in my office the other day. this is a man whose military is in his blood. his father was a great general. his father won five silver stars fighting for our country around
the world. stanley mcchrystal is an expert in counterinsurgency which we need so badly in afghanistan. but, no, we're not going to get him approved. at least for now. republicans are so opposed to everything they even oppose putting people in some of the most important positions in our government. we believe, the majority believe, democrats believe, those who have chosen to serve our country must be able to work without delay. mr. president, republicans across the country agree with that also. we have 40 members of this body, republicans, who don't represent republicans across this country. republicans, if given the chaps, wouldn't they approve general mcchrystal? of course they would. and the other people i have mentioned. we believe these they have
chosen to seven our country must get to work without delay. president obama was elected, shouldn't he have the people he wants to work with him? perhaps those watching and listening think this is how the senate always operates. mr. president, you are a new senator. this isn't how it used to operate. let me put the delays this context: in the first four months of the bush administration, second bush administration, i'm sure it was the same -- i'm sorry in the second bush administration; i'm sure it was the same in the first bush administration, when the senate was controlled by the president's party and we were in the minority, there wasn't a single filibuster of a bush nominee; not one. but in the first four months of the obama administration, republicans have filibustered eight of the nominees, the ones we had to file cloture on.
i've indicated there are many others with the constraints we have, with the rules in the senate, i can't file cloture on every one of these. those eight filibusters in the first four months of president obama's administration are twice as many as president bush faced in his first four years. four months compared to four years. so i hope, mr. president, people who are listening, watching or understanding this, we are not here berating republicans in oregon or nevada or cross the country. what i'm saying as the republicans here in the senate, the 40 of them, are not being fair to our president and our country. last year after senate republicans held up the work of congress more then any or time in the history -- remember, 100 filibusters last year -- after that the american people rejected the republican status
quo. they said no to republicans "just say no" strategy. i would hope they learn the american people don't like this. independents don't like, republicans don't like it and democrats don't like it. we want to work telling. take health care. they have seats at the negotiating terrible. we want to work with them -- negotiating table. we want to work with them. energy -- same thing. there's in question the american people are taking notice. there's no question they're fed up with the petty partisan games. there's no question the reckless tactics have consequences. i would say that republicans delay and delay and delay at their peril but the truth; all americans suffer. it is time republicans let us get to work and allow president obama to have his nominees and let's get this bill off the floor. every day we wait is 3,500 more people subject to being addicted to tobacco.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. burris: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be suspended. i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. burris: mr. president, i'd like to speak for about three or four minutes. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. burris: thank you, mr. president. before too long, this nation's broken health care system has limped along badly and in need of serious reform. many in washington have lacked either the foresight or the political will to take on this issue. for those would have tried, it's been almost impossible to get anywhere. even today the president's health care proposal is under attack to both right and left. i think we need to do better. controversy should not drown out
conservation. the time has come to cast aside, and strengths of partisanship, stop bickering and start talking about real change. the american people have had enough. it's time to get to work. in fact, the facts are plain. tens of millions of americans are uninsured and under insured. and many of these are children. even employers sponsored coverage is in jeopardy. businesses are being drained by skyrocketing costs, and many have cut benefits. high premiums, rising co-payments and expensive prescription drugs are driving american families to the brink. can we stand by and watch as unreasonable health care costs cripple families who are already struggling?
no, we cannot. can we allow this crisis to deepen, leaving more and more hard-working americans behind? no, we cannot. it is the solemn duty of this congress to follow president obama's lead and enact swift, responsible reform. we cannot -- we can cut costs and improve coverage. we can make the system smarter and less wasteful. we can empower individuals and families to make important decisions, not giant corporations or government bureaucracies. we can and we must make quality, affordable health care available to every single american. while i support the rollover that insurance companies play in our health care system, i strongly believe that a public option should also be